The IIIs have it! Sanofi's fresh approval of bleeding drug Altuviiio gets a new factor in drug naming

Sanofi and the Brand Institute have raised the bar in drug naming with the audacious use of not one, not two, but three of the same letter in a row for its new hemophilia treatment. 

That drug is Altuviiio, for which Sanofi and partner Sobi nabbed an FDA approval in hemophilia A last week. The therapy works as a factor VIII replacement and sets itself apart from the competition thanks to its extended half-life, which is three to four times longer than rival therapies, according to Sanofi. That mechanism of action is the inspiration for Altuviiio.

“Regarding the brand name, it is unique in that it is the first brand name approved by FDA that embeds the roman numeral VIII (8),” explained Scott Piergrossi​, president of creative at Brand Institute, in an interview with Fierce Pharma Marketing.

The link is, of course, because of its use as a factor VIII therapeutic, but there is precedence here.

“If we look at other Factor VIII products, you will notice that the brands Recombinate, Advate and Eloctate utilize the 'ate' suffix to phonetically reference the number eight,” Piergrossi said.

There’s also NovoEight, from Novo Nordisk, which embeds the whole word "eight," and Esperoct, again from Novo, which uses the Greek and Latin OCT to connote the number eight.

And it’s a similar story for other hemophilia treatments that use Factor IX, including Benefix, Alprolix, Ixinity and Hemgenix. 

But while these numerical references are helpful, in that they suggest what the drugs are being used for, “our pharmaceutical clients also want to be distinct from a competitive differentiation standpoint,” Piergrossi said. And three iii’s in one name is certainly differentiation.

Analysts from ODDO BHF project the drug's sales will reach 1.3 billion euros by 2029. Sanofi expects Altuviiio to be commercially available in April.